Inside St. Peter's Basilica

Did you know that Rick Santorum chose “Petrus” as his Secret Service code name? As in Christ’s words to St. Peter: “Tu es Petrus” — you are Peter — “and upon this rock, I will build my Church.” I find that shockingly, revealingly arrogant. Kathleen Parker says well, maybe:

All of this and more are contained in the name Petrus — and in the self-image of one Rick Santorum. Grandiose? Or self-sacrificing, humble and willing to submit to public humiliation and agony?

The truth may be somewhere in between. When it comes to his principles, Santorum is a rock. Or rather, a boulder: solid, sturdy, unmovable. Whether you agree with those principles, one can’t help admiring his courage in the face of unyieldingly cruel contempt from some quarters. In defense of human life from conception, Santorum is willing to step into the lion’s den. Whether his inflexibility on certain core beliefs is religious fanaticism or mere stubbornness — or represents a steely spine many find lacking in today’s arena — is a matter for voters to discern.

I really do respect Santorum’s core principles, and his ability to stand up for them no matter what. I share most of those principles. It’s just startling to see that he would identify himself publicly with the martyred first pope — and indeed with every pope, insofar that every pontiff is thought of as “Peter.” Maybe that’s a clue into Santorum’s personality, and why he comes off as such a stiff. He takes himself so, so seriously.

UPDATE: On the other hand, you’d have to be hard-headed to put up with stuff like this passage from the WaPo’s profile of Santorum’s faith journey:

By [2007], Santorum had come to embrace a version of Catholicism far removed from the one he knew in the early 1970s, when church rituals were relaxing, when Catholic kids were being taught to see moral complexity, and when Santorum, a young teenager then, developed a rapport with a freewheeling Franciscan priest who spoke of Catholicism in terms of moral shades of gray.

Ramesh Ponnuru adds, snarkily:

I know my goal as a conservative and a Catholic is for my children to experience church rituals as stressful and never to perceive that any moral dilemma might be complex.

Oooh, that Rick Santorum, pining for the days when Catholics were largely poor, ignorant, and easy to command.